Special Report

America's 50 Best Cities to Live

40. Lake Forest, Illinois
> Population: 19,173
> 5-yr. population change: +1.4%
> Median household income: $172,165
> 5-yr. unemployment rate: 4.0%

Lake Forest, Illinois, is about 30 miles north of Chicago, along the shores of Lake Michigan. Like many other smaller cities just outside major cities, Lake Forest is very affluent, with a median household income of $172,165 — more than $100,000 higher than the U.S. median household income.

Lake Forest has a very low violent crime rate of 42 incidents per 100,000, well below the 367 per 100,000 violent crime rate nationwide. The city is also close to Northwestern University in Evanston, and more than 80% of adult residents hold at least a bachelor’s degree.

39. Lone Tree, Colorado
> Population: 12,923
> 5-yr. population change: +4.8%
> Median household income: $120,392
> 5-yr. unemployment rate: 2.8%

Lone Tree, Colorado, is a town of nearly 13,000 just south of Denver. The city’s residents tend to be economically well off, with a median household income of over $120,000. Lone Tree also has a poverty rate of just 2.2%, well below the 13.4% poverty rate nationwide.

Lone Tree residents also tend to be healthy — just 20.1% of adults are obese, compared to 29.7% of all American adults. The city also has a relatively low rate of overdose deaths, at 9.0 per 100,000 residents. Nationwide, the rate is more than twice as high, at 22.5 fatal overdoses per 100,000 residents.

38. Bellaire, Texas
> Population: 18,815
> 5-yr. population change: +7.3%
> Median household income: $206,734
> 5-yr. unemployment rate: 2.0%

Bellaire, Texas, just southwest of Houston, ranks as one of the 50 best cities in America to live in. The city is one of the most affluent in the country, with most households earning over $200,000.

Bellaire’s average unemployment rate over the last five years was just 2.0%, less than half of the comparable national rate. The city also has a 2.3% poverty rate, a fraction of the U.S. rate of 13.4%. Owning one’s home can help build wealth, and nearly 90% of Bellaire homes are owner-occupied, compared to 64% of all homes nationwide.

Source: KaraGrubis / iStock via Getty Images

37. Durango, Colorado
> Population: 18,588
> 5-yr. population change: +7.6%
> Median household income: $66,160
> 5-yr. unemployment rate: 4.8%

The population of Durango in southwestern Colorado grew by 7.6% over the past five years, more than double the national growth rate of 3.4% during that same time. The city is walkable, with 11% of commuters walking to their jobs, and 8.1% cycling there.

Durango is home to Fort Lewis College, a four-year institution. College towns frequently rank among the best places to live as they tend to have young, healthy, and well-educated populations. Nationwide, 6.9% of the total population is enrolled in college. In Durango, college students make up 14.2% of the population.

Source: Flavio Vallenari / iStock via Getty Images

36. Palm Beach, Florida
> Population: 8,723
> 5-yr. population change: +4.5%
> Median household income: $141,348
> 5-yr. unemployment rate: 2.3%

Palm Beach is the lone Florida city to rank among the 50 best places to live in America. The city’s population is well educated, with 67.9% of residents 25 and older holding at least a bachelor’s degree. This high level of educational attainment has likely helped contribute to the relatively high median household income, which, at $141,348, is more than double the U.S. median.

Palm Beach is a safe place to live, with just 92 violent crimes per 100,000 people reported. Nationwide, the violent crime rate is 367 incidents per 100,000. A popular retirement destination, just 30.7% of Palm Beach residents are employed, compared to 47.7% of all Americans.

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